Okay “Days of Our Lives” Fans… the year was 1985. Bo and Hope were daytime’s biggest phenom. The song “‘Take These Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister was pushing to the top of the charts. No cable competition. No Internet. It was indeed a simpler time. I was in my mid 20s at The University of Pittsburgh where EVERYONE was glued to the televisions in the dorms at 1:00 p.m. I also worked at The Beaver Valley Power Station for my Mom’s massive company, where all of the construction crews were “hooked” on Bo and Hope. There was a “spark” that ignited and we all watched as Bo and Hope rocked Daytime Television to its very core. This wasn’t “Luke and Laura” and it wasn’t just “hype”… this was something more and it couldn’t be defined by chemistry or anything else.
Bo and Hope were defining a new generation of Daytime Soap viewers. Bo (Peter Reckell) was the very first “anti-hero” to hit the daytime screen with a powerful vengeance. His long hair and scruffy beard made him stand out from the characters we had been accustomed to seeing. He dressed a bit like Kurt Cobain and wore snakeskin boots with ripped layered sweat shirts topped off with camouflage pants and a motorcycle that made us all want to beat the system and head out on the open road… while Bob Seager’s “Roll Me Away” taunted us to abandon the expectations of those poor saps who would never dare to step out of the lines.
Now you have to understand that in 1985, Yuppies had been calling all of the shots, driving the “safe status cars” and looking down their collective noses at anyone who dared to embrace “freedom”. The “suits” were everywhere. Hope, well… she was the girl who loved to cross the tracks onto the proverbial “wrong side”, where blue collar and having a beer were foreign to this somewhat spoiled “princess” who instantly saw her freedom and passion for life in Bo. Bo was a Bohemian Renaissance man who wasn’t interested in following the rules, he made his own… but the core of the character was based in the values he had been raised to respect.
There was this indefinable magic and everyone felt it as this “super couple” took us all on the road to adventure, romance and everything in between. I can remember watching the couple’s very first scenes and thinking, “This is going to become a world-wide sensation”. And sure enough, with the inclusion of Francis Reed [Alice Horton, Hope's Gram] as a hip Grandma who was routing for Bo and Hope as much as the rest of us were… it all took off and we just kept coming back for more. God it really was a simpler time. And yet it was all being strategically put together in a way that my generation knew… soap operas were now hitting “cool” for the rest of us.
As Bo and Hope struggled to escape all of the perils that seemed to show up at every turn, we were being treated to location shoots in New Orleans, Miami and New York and a breaking of the “mold” which our parents had accepted over the years… stories consisted of having coffee at each others kitchens and gossiping.
Fast forward… it is 2011 and whether anyone cares to admit it or not Bo and Hope may have grown older… but the magic has never really left, it’s just being kept in a box. It’s sad that the scope of Daytime Television has turned its back on taking risks, speeding up the storytelling process and giving its viewers something to cheer about… something to route for, care about and keep returning for more. Maybe I’ve become a tad bit cynical as I have watched its agonizing demise. The producers and writers are such an incestuous group that RARELY, if ever, do they bring in anyone with a new and bolder vision that might just soar.
I can’t find much optimism about the near future of Daytime Soap Operas. It’s going to take much more than bringing old characters back and hiring new producers and writers to write as brilliantly as they do for some of the prime-time shows… it’s going to take nothing short of a divine intervention to save all of these shows from inevitable extinction. The actors and actresses are NOT the problem. And we all know it.
If you take a moment and listen to the lyrics of Mr. Mister’s, “Broken Wings” perhaps the powers that be will somehow “get it”… that the broken wings are the perfect metaphor for daytime soaps… and someone needs to wake up [AS IN RIGHT NOW], “Take these broken wings and learn to fly again…”